With just one month to go until the end of the eviction ban (23rd August), Citizens Advice is warning it has seen a huge surge in private renters worried about arrears.
The charity believes that many renters will need financial support to pay back these debts or risk losing their homes.
New figures from the charity show the level of concern among private renters about rent arrears has rocketed in 2020. Page views of the Citizens Advice web page on ‘Dealing with rent arrears’ increased fourfold year on year. People looking for advice on help they can get with possible homelessness has also increased, despite the temporary ban on repossession action.
The charity says that the government last week confirmed that the protections against eviction in the private sector will end in August. In contrast, the FCA has already extended the period of eligibility of mortgage holidays, as well as other kinds of consumer credit, until the end of October. Previous research by Citizens Advice has indicated over a third (36%) of private sector renters have seen their income fall by 20% or more – higher than the average of 26% for all tenure types.
The charity is calling for extra funding to be made available to support people to pay back arrears resulting from coronavirus. The National Residential Landlords Association have this week called for extra financial help for renters in debt when the eviction ban ends.
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said “The dramatic jump in the need for advice on rent arrears should be a warning sign for the government that many people are deeply worried about the possibility of losing their home.”
“Renters have been particularly vulnerable to the economic effects of Covid-19, yet protections for them run out sooner than many of the other measures to help people struggling, including those for mortgage payers.”
“Many renters won’t be in a position to repay arrears built up due to coronavirus. Without help, they risk losing the roof over their head through no fault of their own.”
Amy Hughes, Housing Expert at Citizens Advice, said “The restarting of eviction proceedings will be very worrying for those tenants still reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on their finances.”
“There may be a number of ways an eviction notice can be challenged, and anybody served such a notice should get advice about whether it is valid and whether they may be able to stop or delay their eviction.”